What does being a parent mean to me?
The impossible question – it’s a changing state. Being a parent means different things at different times. It also asks different things of me. Being inventive, inquisitive, sensible and spontaneous.
Either way it’s a constant. Constant responsibility with constant change. That’s the best part. No baby arrives with a manual, nor does any relationship and so begins the adventure of understanding each other and being changed by each other – both as learners.
Parenting invites the best of me to show up, to be brave about life and be believable.
Its funny to think there was an era where children were seen and not heard. I sometimes wonder if my children are heard and not seen… I can hardly keep up with their questions, descriptions, commentary, commands and their physical energy for life and adventure. Children with their brilliance remind us of what it means to truly soak up all of life’s opportunities that are right in front of us – not the ten year plans.
When I focus too much on what ‘a parent ought to be’ I stray too much from who I am and easily end up mimicking what everyone else seems to do. The trouble for me is everyone else seems perfect and perfectly capable. In the midst of these insecure comparisons, I lose my creativity and energy to give. Worse still the pursuit of being perfect is the opposite to showing my children that I’m imperfect, and life has struggles and we can get through them.
Being a parent is an incomparable responsibility because its not a task, project, career or mode. The busy mode of parenting. I’m guilty of it. More doing and thinking about doing, than ‘being’, ‘exchanging’ and ‘tuning-in’.
Who could have prepared me for this moment from my 5 year old son…“Mum I really love you. You suit me. We really match” I’m sure this wasn’t because of all the domestic tasks I had achieved in the five years. It was the heart speaking about the unexplainable – love. Being, sharing, getting it right and getting in wrong. Together.
I’m not a better person for being a parent. I’m more human, and more aware of it.
What advice would you give to another parent?
Advice is a two edged sword. It can help and harm in the same sentence. Too often we want to follow a pattern because we self doubt, or find the blue print to guarantee success.
I think the biggest driver for me is the idea my child is saying (without saying it) – you’re all I’ve got (for now) and I’m going to soak up your bravery, curiosity and your fears.
Where does that leave me? It leaves me responsible and on the edge of my seat. Who I am and how I face life is the main ingredient of influence I give.
All the rest is ‘stuff’ and ‘domestic’. It matters but it’s not the heart of the ‘matter’. Getting the ‘stuff’ perfect is a tireless goal and mostly out of reach and doesn’t build the bounce back that children need to navigate life. Getting the right stuff right is about being present. Present in the random moments and present in the mundane. Present with the best of me.
The best of me is, as ever, a work in progress.